EBRD Annual Meeting and Business Forum 2014: Energy Transition

By Larry  Sherwin

“Energy Transition: Security, Affordability and Climate Change”

Few subjects dominate political debate and national headlines in country after country as regularly as energy – whether it is energy policy and strategy in the US, the future of nuclear power in Japan or Germany, energy supply and security in the EU, proposed price freezes in the UK, or energy efficiency and the environment.

The energy debate is a broad, complex subject associated with a range of vital questions affecting individual consumers, national economies, and regional and international politics.

No-one would disagree that affordable energy is a crucial element in economic development, stability and prosperity. Achieving the right balance between security, affordability and environmental considerations is a political and economic tightrope, and one of the most difficult propositions for national governments.

Energy security is necessary for social and economic stability, affordability is crucial for industrial competitiveness and consumer well-being, while environmental concerns stay high on the agenda.

Maintaining a balance between those elements, while keeping a focus on the future are the biggest challenges, according to the panel at the EBRD Annual Meeting and Business Forum in Warsaw.

The energy sector itself is one of contradictions. As Thane Gustafson pointed out, there is a clear contrast between inertia in the energy sector and surprise: “Always expect the unexpected”. So in this climate, how can policy-makers and consumers plan for energy solutions in the short and long term?

Technological development has been seen as the way forward and is crucial for the development of transition economies. But can we envisage any technological advances in 10 years time? Thane Gustafson suggested – “as a long shot” – that gas hydrates (ice-like minerals that form at the low temperatures and high pressures of the deep sea) might offer a solution for energy supply but conceded that even this technology might pose inherent environmental risks and challenges.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Moderator

  • Riccardo Puliti, Managing Director Energy, EBRD

Confirmed Panellists

  • Jan Chadam, President of the Management Board, Gaz system S.A.
  • Thane Gustafson, Professor of Political Science and writer, Georgetown University, author of ‘Wheel of Fortune’
  • Anna Strizyk, Vice President and CFO of ZE PAK, S.A.
  • Roman Szyszko, Executive Vice President and CFO, Energa, S.A